The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

FCA Campaigns: Illicit Trade

romanian border police 200pRomanian border police crack down on illegal cigarettes coming into the country (c) FCAIllicit trade in tobacco products is a huge global problem that affects public health, and threatens law and order. Global effort is essential in eliminating this trade, as well as to control supply and distribution chains and implement effective enforcement strategies.

The tobacco industry benefits from illicit trade. Tobacco consumption increases due to the availability of cheaper products, and governments delay raising tobacco taxes because they're worried about increased smuggling.

Read more about illicit trade

Illicit Trade Campaign News

Tobacco giant involved in smuggling in a dozen countries - report

A group of investigative journalists is reporting that Japan Tobacco International (JTI) was implicated in smuggling carried out by its distributors in a dozen countries. 

According to the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, "Mobsters were doing business with the firm's Russian distributorship while shipping tons of illegal cigarettes into Europe. Workers felt endangered. Accused smugglers and criminals ran some of its Middle East partnerships."

‘Blood cigarettes’ smuggled in east, central Africa

The activities of rebel groups and corruption in governments that also lack capacity, not differing levels of taxation in neighbouring states, are the main reasons for tobacco smuggling in eastern and central Africa, according to an article published in the journal Tobacco Control.

Based on more than 400 interviews conducted by Dr Kristof Titeca of the University of Antwerp from 2005 to 2010, with smugglers, government and customs officials and others, the article analyses the trade in smuggled cigarettes between Kenya, Uganda, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Although cigarette prices in those countries are low (US$0.6 per pack for the most popular brand), the easy avoidance of taxation fuels the smuggling by traders who work in cooperation with rebel groups, the article says.

Iran takes on tobacco smuggling

Iran government official destroying illegal cigarettes © Mahdi Marizad FARS News Agency

Article 15: illicit trade

Iran’s government recently destroyed 180 million illegal cigarettes, worth $560,000, south of Tehran in an effort to combat tobacco smuggling.

Since Iran implemented health warning labels on cigarette packages in early 2009 and increased tobacco taxes, the country has experienced an unprecedented influx of smuggled tobacco products.